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fee them in God** (i), as if w^underftood, what ideas in
the underftanding of God are, better than when they
are in our own underftandings ; or their nature were
better known, when it is faid, that '' the immediate
" objedl: of our underftandings are the divine ideas, the
'' omniform elTence of God, partially reprefented or
" exhibited** (2). So that this now has made the
matter clear, there can be no difficulty left, when we
are told that our ideas are the divine ideas ; and the
" divine ideas the omniform ellcnce of God.** For
what the divine ideas are, \vc know as plainly, as we
know what i, 2, and 3, is; and it is a fatisfadiory ex-
plication of what our ideas are to tell us, they are no
other than the divine ideas ; and the divine cflence is
more familiar, and level to our knowledge, than any
thing we think of Befides, there can be no difficulty

^i) See Curfory Refledlons upon a book called, ** An Kflay concerning
Human Underftanding." Written by John Norris, M. A. redor of New-
ton St. Loe, in Somerfetfhire, and late fellow of Ali-Souls college: in a
letter to a friend ; printed at the end of his " Chriftian BlefTedncfs, or
«* Difcourfes upon the Beatitudes of our Lord and Saviour Jcfus Chrift ;"
pag. 30. Lond. 1690.111 bvo. (2) Ibid, p.ig, 31.

R 4 in

24S Remarks upon Mr. Norris's Books, &c,

in undcrflamling how tl:c " divine ideas arc God's
^ circncc.'*

2. I ani complained of for not having '* given an
'* account of, or defined the nature of our ideas" (3).
Bv *' giving an account of the nature of ideas," is not
meant, I Iliould make known to men their ideas ;
for 1 think no-body can imagine that any articulate
founds of mine, or any body elfc, can make known to
another wliat his ideas, that is, what his perceptions
are, better than what he himfclf knows and perceives
them to be ; which is enough for afiirmations, or nega-
tion;s> about them. By the '* nature of ideas," there-
fore, is meant here their caufes and manner of produc-
tion in thcmind, i.e. in what alteration of the mind this
perception conlifts ; and as to that, I anfwer, no mari
can tell ; for which I not only appeal to experience, which
uere enough, but ihall add this reafon, viz. becaufe no
nun c2Ln give any account of any alteration made in any
limplc fubdance whatfoever ; all the alteration we can
ironceivc, being only of the alteration of compounded
fubllanccs ; and that only by a tranlpofition of parts.
Our ideas, fay thefe men, are the *' divine ideas, or the
omniform eflence of Cjod," whirh the mind fometimcs
fees, and fomctimes not. Now I aik thefe men, w hat
alteration is made in the mind upon feeing? for there
lies the difficulty, which occafions the inquiry.

For wlxat diflerence a man fihds in himfclf, when he
fees a marygold, and fees not a marygold, has no diffi-
culiv, and needs not be inquired after : he has the idea
now, which he had not before. The diihculty is, \\hat
alteration is nrvadc in his mind ; what changes that has
in itfelf, when it fees what it did i.ot fee before, either
ihc divice idea in the underflanding ot God, or, as the
ignorant think, the marygold in the garden. Either
fuppolaion, as to this matter, is all one; for they arc
both thmgs cxtrinlical to the mind, till it has that per-
ception ; and \\hK:n it has it, 1 deiire them to explain to
me, what the alreiarion in the mir.d is, befides fav ing.

[-^] Curforv R^i^ '.'lion?, c\;c. pn^. ;.


Remarks upon Mr, No'rris's Books, i^c. 249

as we vulgar do, it is having'a perception, ^vhich it had
.not the moment before; which is only the difference
between perceiving and not perceiving ; a difference in
matter of fa<ll agreed on all hands ; which, wherein it
confifts, is, for aught I fee, unknown to one fide as well
as the other J only the one have the ingenuity to confefs
their ignorance ; and the other pretend to be knowing.

3. P. Malebranche fays, *' God does all things by
'^ the fimplelt and fiiortefi: ways," i. e. as it is inter-
preted in Mr. Norris's Reafon and Religion, '' God
'\ never does any thing in vain" (4). This will eafily
be granted them; but how will they reconcile to this
principle of theirs, on which their whole fyftem is
built, the curious ffrudure of the eye and ear; not to
mention the other parts of the body ? JFor if the percep-
tion of colours and founds depended on nothing but the
prcfence of the objx:6i: affording an occafional caufe to
God Almighty to exhibit to the mind the idea of figures,
colours, and founds ; all that nice and curious ffrudure
•of thofe organs is wholly in vain : fmce the im\ by day,
and the ffars by night, and the vifible objects that fur-
round us, and the beating of a drum, the talk of people,
.and the change made in the air by thunder ; are as much
prefent to a blind and deaf, as to thole who have
their eyes and ears in the greatefc perfection. He that
underffands optics ever fo little, muff needs admire
the v.cnderful make of the eye, not only for the variety
and nearncfs of the parts; but as fuitcd to the nature of
refraction, fo as to paint the image of the object in the
retina ; which thefe men muff" confefs to be all loff la-
bour, if it contributes nothing at all, in -the ordinary
v;ay of caufcs and cffecls, to the j)rodLicing that idea in
the mind. But that only the prefence of the object
gave occafion to God to fliow to the mind that idea in

(4) " Reafon and Religioa ; or, the Grounds and Meafurcs of Dcvo-
*' rion, conlidered from the nature of Go \, and the nature of man. In
.** fcveral contemplations. With exeic.ics of devotion applied to every
" contemplation." By John Norris, M. /\. and fellow of All-fouls
college in Oxford, Part II. Contemplation II. { 17. p. 19^. Lund.^vo.


250 Remarks upon Mr. Norris's Books, (£c.

himfelf, which certainly is as prcfent to one that has a
gutta ferena, as to the quickfightedcft man living. But
Mc do not know how, by any natural operation, this can
produce an idea in the mind; and therefore (a good
conclufion !) God, the author of nature, cannot this way
produce it. As if it were impofTible for the Almighty
to produce any thing, but by ways we mufi: conceive,
and arc able to comprehend ; when he that is beft fatis-
ficd of his omnifcicnt underlhnding, and knows fo well
how God perceives, and man thinks, cannot explain the
cohefion of parts in the lowcil degree of created beings,
unorganifed bodies.

4. The perception of univerfals alfo proves that all
beings are prcfent to our minds ; and that can only be
by the prefcnce of God, bccaufc all '' created things are
" individuals" (5). Are not all things that exift in-
dividuals ? If fo, then fay not, all created, but all ex-
iting things are individuals ; and if fo, then the having
any general idea proves not that we have all objedls prc-
fent to our minds. But this is for want of confidering
wherein univcrfality confifts ; which is only in repre-
fcntation, abftra(5ling from particulars. An idea of a
circle, of an inch diameter, will reprefent, where, or
whcnfoever exifting, all the circles of an inch diameter ;
and that by abflraCting from time and place. And it
will alfo reprefent all circles of any bignefs, by abflradl-
ing alfo from that particular bignefs, and by retaining
only the relation of equidiftancc of the circumference
from the centre, in all the parts of it.

5.Wc have a *' diltincl idea of God" (6), whereby we
clearly enough diflinguilh him from the creatures; but
I fear it would be prefumption for us to fay, we have a
clear idea of him, as he is in himfelf.

6. The argument, that ** we have the idea of infinite,
" before the idea of finite, becaufe we conceive infinite
" bemg, barely by conceiving being, v.itb.out confider-
*' ing, whether it be finite or infinite" (7) ; I Ihall

(0 '* Rcafonand Religion, Lc. Fart IL Contrmp. II. ^ 19. p. 197.
|6) Ibid. 5 20. p. \ij^. (7) Ibid. J 21. p. 19!.


Remarks upon Mr. Norris'z Books, &c. 251

leave to be confidered, whether it is not a miflake, of
priority of nature, for priority of conception.

7. '' God made all things for himfelf" (8) ; therefore,
we *' fee all things in him/* This is called dcmonllra-
tion. As if all things were as well ihriade for God,
and mankind had not as much reafon to magnify him,
if their perception of things were any other way
than fuch an one of feeing them in him ; as fhows not
God more than the other, and wherein not one of a
million takes more notice of him, than thofe who think
they perceive things, where they are, by their fcnfes.

8. If God fliould create a mind, and give it the fun,
fuppofe, for its idea, *' or immediate obje(^l of know^
'* ledge, God would then make that mind for the fun,.
'* and not for himfelf" (9). This fuppofes, that thofe
that fee things in God, fee at the fame time God alfo,
and thereby ihow that their minds are made for God,
having him for the ^' immediate objed of their know-
*' ledge.*' But for this I muft appeal to common ex-
perience, whether every one, as often as he fees any
thing elfe, fees and perceives God in the cafe ; or whe-
ther it be not true of men, who fee other things every
moment, that God is not in all their thoughts ? Yet, fays
he, *' when the mind fees his works, it fees him in fomc
" manner'* (10). This fome manner, is no manner at
all to the purpofe of being made only for God, for hi^
idea, or for his immediate objed of knowledge. A
man bred up in the obfcurity of a dungeon, where, by a
dim and almoft no light, he perceives the objedls about
him ; it is true, he owes this idea to the light of the fun ;
but having never heard, nor thought of the (un, can one
(ay that the idea of the fun is '' his immediate objed of
" knowledge," or that therefore '' his mind was made
^' for the fun?" This is the cafe of a great part of man-
kind ; and how many can we imagme of thofe, who
have got fome notion of God, either from tradition or
reafon; have an idea of him prefent in their minds as
pften as they think of any thing elfe ?

(8) Reafon and Religion, Part II. Contemp. 11.^ 22. p. 199.
(9) Ibid. 5 22. p. 199. (10) Ibid. § 23. p. 20c.

9. But

252 RtJHurks upon Mr. Norris's Books, ^c.

9. But if our being made for God neceiTarily demon-
(Iratcs that we i"hould ** fee all things in him;" this, at
lad, will dcmonnratc, that wc arc not half made for
him, lincc it is confclfcd by our author, that we fee no
other ideas in (xod, but thofe of number, cxtenfion, and
eirenccs ; which arc not half the ideas that take up men's

10. ** The fimple circnces of things are nothing elfc
" but the divine cHence itfelf conlidered with his con-
** notation, as varioufly reprefentative, or exhibitive of
'* things, and as varioully imitablc or participable by
** them'* (11); and this he tells us are ideas (12). The
meaning, I take it, of all this, put into plain intelligible
words, is this ; God has always a power to produce any
thing that involves not a contradiction. He alfo knows
"what we can do. But \\ hat is all this to ideas in him,
as real beings vifible by us? God knew, from eternity,
he could produce a pebble, a mufliroom, and a man.
Were thefe, which are diflindl ideas, part of his fim.plc
cfFence ? It feems then we know very w ell the elFcnce of
God, and \\{t the word iimple, which comprehends all
forts of variety, in a very proper way. But God knew
he could produce fuch creatures; therefore, where lliall
we place thofe ideas he faw of them, but in his own ef-
fencc? There thefe ideas exiftcd *' cminenter ;" and fo
they are the elfence of God. There arc things thcm-
felves cxilled too ** emincnter," and therefore all the
creatures, as they really exilt, are the elFence of God.
For if finite real beings of one kind, as ideas arc faid to
be, are the eirence of the infinite God ; other finite
beings, as the creatures, may be alfo the efience of God.
But after this rate wc nuill talk, when v.e will ailov/
ourfclves to be ignorant of nothing; but will know
even the knowledge of God, and the way of his undcr-
ftanding !

11. The ** cfTcnccs of things, or ideas exifting in
** God** (13). There arc many of them that cxirt in

(11) Rcaftm ami Religion, Parr I, Contcmpl. V. ^ iq. p.. Sz.

(12) Ibid. S 20. • ' '• -^ * - ■ -.


Remarks upon Ah\ Norris^s Books ^ &c, 253

God; and fo the iimple efTence of God has adlually
exifting in it as great a variety of ideas as there are of
creatures ; all of ihem real beings, and diftindl one
from another. If it be faid, this means, God can, and
knows he can produce them ; what doth this fay more
than every one fays ? If it doth fay more, and fliows us
not this infinite number of real diflind: beings in God,
fo as to be his very efTence ; what is this better than what
thofe fay, who make God to be nothing but the univerfe;
though it be covered under unintelligible expreflions of
limplicity and variety, at the fame time, in the elTcnce
of God ? But thofe who. would not be thought ignorant
of any thing to attain it, make God like themfelves ;
or elfe they could not talk as they do, of '' the mind of
" God, and the ideas in the mind of God, exhibitive
^' of all the whole poflibility of being" (14).

12. It is '' in the divine nature that thefe univerfal
*' natures, which are the proper object of fcience, are
'' to be found. And confequently it is i^] God that we
'' know^ all the truth which we know" (15). Doth any
univerfal nature therefore exifb ? Or can any thing that
cxifts any where, or any how, be any other than fmgular?
I think it cannot be denied that God, having a power
to produce ideas in us, can give that power to another;
or, to exprefs it otherwife, make any idea the effcd of
any operation on our bodies. This has no contradiction
in It, and therefore is poilible. But you will fay, you
conceive not the way how this is done. If you fband
to that rule, that it cannot be done, becaufe you con-
ceive not the manner how it is brought to pafs ; you
muli deny that God can do this, becaufe you can-
mol conceive the manner how he produces any idea in
us. If vifible objccls are {c^.n only by God's exhibit-
ing their ideas to our minds, on occaiion of the pre-
fence of thefe objects, what hinders the AJmighty from
exhibiting their ideas to a blind man, to whom, being
fet before his face, and as near his eyes, and in as good

(14.) Reafon and Religion, Part I. ContempL V. i 30. p. 92, 93.
(15) Ibid, Part II. Contempl. 11. ^ 30. p. 206.


2 54 Retnarhs upon Mr. Norris's Books, &c.

a light n5 to one not blind, they arc, according to this
fuppofition, as nuich the occalional caule to one as the
other? But yet under this equality of occafional caufcs,
one has the idea, and the other not ; and this conOantly ;
"uhich would give one rcafon to fufpedt fomething more
than a prefentiai occafional caufc in the objed.

13. Farther, if light flriking upon the eyes be but
the occafional caufc of feeing; God, in making the eyes
of fo curious a lh'ucT:urc, operates not by the fiinpleft
vays ; for God could have produced vifiblc ideas upon
the occafion of light upon the eye-lids or fore-head.

14. Outward objecfhs are not, when prefent, always
occafional caufcs. He that has long continued in a
room perfumed with fwcet odours, ceafes to fmell,
though the room be lilled with thofc flowers ; though, as
often as after a little abfencc he returns again, he fmells
them afrcih. He that comes out of bright (unfliine into
a room where the curtains are drawn, at lirfl: fees no-
thing in the room ; though thofe who have been there
fome time, fee him and every thing plainly. It is hard
to account for cither of thefe phenomena, by God's
producing thefe ideas upon the account of occafional
caufes. But by the production of ideas in the mind,
by the operation of the objedl on the organs of fenfe,
this difference is eafy to be explained.

15. Whether the ideas of light and colours come in
by the eyes, or no ; it is all one as if they did ; for thofe
who have no e)'es, never have them. And whether, or
no, God has appointed that a certain modified motion
of the fibres, or fpirits in the optic nerve, fliould ex-
cite, or produce, or caufe them in us ; call it what you
pleafe : it is ail one as if it did ; lince where there is
no fuch motion, there is no fuch perception or idea.
For I hope they will not deny God the pri\ilege to give
fuch a power to motion, if he pleafes. Yei, fay they,
they be the occafional, but not the efficient caufe; lor
that they cannot be, bccaufe that is in effe^]: to fay, he
has given this motion in the optic nerve a power to
operate on himfelf, but cannot give it a power to
oper:Ue on the mind c>f man ; it may by this appoint-
HiCnt operate on himfelf, the impaflible infinite fpirit,
and put him in mind when he is to operate on the mind


Rejnarks upon Mr. Norris's Bo^ks, 6fr. 255

of man, and exhibit to it the idea which is in himfclf
of any colour. The infinite eternal God is certainly the
caufe of all things, the fountain of all being and power.
But, becaufc all being was from him, can there be no-
thing but God himfelf ? or, becaufe all power was ori-
ginally in him, can there be nothing of it communica-
ted to his creatures ? This is to fet very narrow bounds
to the power of God, and, by pretending to extend it,
takes it away. For which (I befeech you, as we can
comprehend) is the perfecStefl power; to make a ma-
chine, a watch, for example, that when the watch-
maker has withdrawn his hands, fhall go and ftrike by
the fit contrivance of the parts ; or elfe requires that
whenever the hand by pointing to the hours, minds him
of it, he fhould ftrike twelve upon the bell ? No ma-
chine of God*s making can go of itfelf. Why? becaufe
the creatures have no power; can neither move them-
felves, nor any thing elfe. How then comes about all
that w^e fee ? Do they do nothing ? Yes, they are the
occafional caufes to God, why he fhould produce cer-
tain thoughts and motions in them. The creatures can-
not produce any idea, any thought in man. How then
comes he to perceive or think ? God upon the occafion
of fome motion in the optic nerve, exhibits the colour
of a marygold or a rofe to his mind. How came that
motion in his optic nerve ? On occafion of the motion
of fome particles of light ftriking on the retina, God
producing it, and fo on. And fo whatever a man thinks,
God produces the thought ; let it be infidelity, mur-
muring, or blafphemy. The mind doth nothing ; his
mind is only the mirrour that receives the ideas that God
exhibits to it, and juft as God exhibits them ; the
man is altogether palTive in the whole bufinefs of think-

16. A man cannot move his arm or his tongue; he
has no power; only upon occafion, the man willing it,
God moves it. The man wills, he doth fomething; or
elfe God, upon the occafion of fomething, which he
himfelf did before, produced this will, and this adion
in him. This is the hypothefis that clears doubts, and
brings us at laft to the religion of Hobbes and Spinufa,


256 Remarks upon Mr. Norn's' s Books y >Sri\

by rcfc^Iving all, even the thoughts and will of men, into
an irrtliiliblc fatal necelTity. For, w hethcr the original
of it be from the continued motion of eternal all-do-
ing matter, or from an omnipotent inmiatcrial being
which, having begun matter and motion, continues it
by the direction of occafions which he himfelf has alfo
made; as to religion and morality, it isjufl: the fame
thing. Jiut we mult know how every thing is brought to
pafs, and thus we have it refolved, w ithout leaving any
dilliculty to perplex us. But perhaps it would better
become us to acknowledge our ignorance, than to talk
fuch things boldly of the Holy One of Ifracl, and con-
demn others for not during to be as unmannerly as our-i

17. Ideas ma} be real beings, though not fubflances ;
as motion is a real being, though not a fubftance; and
it feems probable that, in us, ideas depend on, and are
fome w ay or other the effedl of motion ; iince they are
fo rieeting ; it being, as I have elfewhere obferved, fo
hard, and almoft impollible, to keep in our minds the
fame unvaried idea, long together, unlefs when the ob-
ject that produces it is prefent to the fenfes ; from which
the fame motion that firft produced it being continued,
the idea itfelf may continue.

18. This therefore may be a fufficient excufe of the
ignorance I have owned of what our ideas are, any far-
ther than as they are perceptions we experiment in our-
felves ; and the dull unphilofophical way I have taken
of examining their production, only fo far as experience
and obfervation lead mc ; wherein my dim light went not
beyond fenfation and retlec1:ion.

19. Truth (16) lies only in propofitions. The foun-
dation of this truth is the relation that is between our
ideas. The knowledge of truth is that perception
of the relation between our ideas to be as it is ex-
prelT'cd .

20. The immutability (jf elfences lies in the fame
founds, fu])pored to itand for the fame ideas. 1 hefg

(16) Sec Rcafon and Religion, c^c. Pari II. Contcmpl. U. j 29. p. ^04^


Remarks upon Mr. Morris's Boohs, &c. 21^57

things conlidered, would have faved this learned dif-

2T. Whatever exifls, whether in God, or out of God,
is fingular (17).

22. If no proportion lliould be made, there would be
no truth nor falfhood ; though the lame relations ftill
fubfifting between the fame ideas, is a foundation of the
immutability of truth (18) in the fame proportions,
whenever made.

2-^. What wonder is it that the fame idea (19) fhould
always be the fame idea ? For if the word triangle be
fuppofed to have the fame fignification always, that is all
this amounts to.

24. " I defirc to know (20) what things they are
'' that God has prepared for them that love him.'*
Therefore I have fome knowledge of them already,
though they be fuch as '' eye hath not feen, nor ear
" heard, nor have entered into the heart of man to con-
^' ceive."

25. If I '^ have all things adlually prefent to my
mind ;" why do I not know all things diflindlly ?

26. He that confiders (21) the force of fuch ways of
fpeaking as thefe, *' I defire it, pray give it me, flie was
" afraid of the fnake, and ran away trembling;" 'will
eafily conceive how the meaning of the words '' de-
" fire" and '' fear," and fo all thofe which ftand for
intellectual notions, may be taught by words of fenlibic

27. This, however otherwifc in experience, fhould
be fo on this hypothecs ; v. g. the uniformity of the
ideas, that different men have when they ufe fuch
words as thefe, '' glory, woriliip, religion," are clear
proofs that '' God exhibited to their minds that part
*' of the ideal world, as is fignified by that lign "

28. Strange! that truth being, in any queftion,
but one ; the more we difcover of it, the more uniforai
our judgments fliould be about it (22).

(17) See Reafon and Religion, Part II. Contempl. II. ^30. p. 206.

(18) Ibid. § 32. p. 207. (19) Ibid. § ^^. p. 20S, 209.
(20) Ibid. ^ 34. p. 210. (21] Ibid, j 35. p. 21 1, 212, 213.
(22) ibid. § 36. p. 214.

Vol. IX. S 29. This

^5^ R I'm, iris upon Mr. Nor vis's Books ^ tfc'.

29. This argues that the ground of it is the always
immutable relations of the fanic ideas. Several ideas
that we have once got acquaintctl with, \vc can revive ;
and fo they are prcfent to us when we plcafe. But the
knowledge of their relations, fo as to know what we
may aflirm or deny of them, is not always prcfent to
our minds ; but we often mifs truth, even after ftudy.
But in many, and j^oliibly not the fcwell, we have nei-
ther the ideas, nor the truth, condantly, or fo much as
at all, prcfent to our mind.'?.

And I think I may, without any difparagcment to
the author, doubt whether he ever had, or, with all
his application, ever would have, the ideas of truth
prcfent to the mind, tiut Mr. Newton had in writing
his book.

•\o. This fection (23) fuppofes we are better ac-
quainted w ith God's underllanding than our own. But
this pretty argument would perhaps look as fmilingly
thus : We are like God in our undcrflandings ; he fees
-what he fees, by ideas in his own mind ; therefore wc
fee what we fee, by ideas that are in our own minds.

31. Thefe texts (24) do not prove that we fhall
** hereafter fee all things in God." There will be
objeds in a future (late, and wc Ihall have bodies and

32. Is he, whilfl we fee through the veil of our mor-
tal flcfli here, intimately prefent to our minds?

33. To think r)f any thing (25) is to contemplate that

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